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New national center strengthens NHS cancer services

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) will co-lead a new national center of excellence with the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS England) to strengthen NHS cancer services by looking at treatments and patient outcomes right across England and Wales.

The National Cancer Audit Collaborating Centre will deliver five new national cancer audits in breast cancer (primary and metastatic), ovarian, pancreatic, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and kidney cancer.

The new ‘center’ is part of the National Clinical Audit and Patient Outcomes Programme (NCAPOP), commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) on behalf of NHS England and the Welsh Government.

The collaborating center will become part of the Clinical Effectiveness Unit (CEU) at RCS England – a long-standing collaboration between LSHTM and RCS England. The CEU currently delivers clinical audits in prostate, lung, bowel, oesophageal and stomach cancer, and recently completed an audit of breast cancer in older patients. These audits have helped provide a wider understanding of cancer treatments across England and Wales, and improve outcomes for patients. They have also promoted improvement initiatives within NHS cancer services and identified areas of best practice.

NHS England and the Welsh Government will fund the five new clinical cancer audits, with £5.4m for an initial period of three years.  The aim of these audits will be to:

  1. Provide regular and timely evidence to cancer services of where patterns of care in England and Wales may vary.
  2. Support NHS services to increase the consistency of access to treatments and help guide quality improvement initiatives.
  3. Stimulate improvements in cancer detection, treatment and outcomes for patients, including survival rates.

Over the past 15 years, our national clinical audits have shone an important spotlight on NHS cancer care across England and Wales, helping NHS hospitals to improve their services for patients. The new center will give surgeons and other clinicians an opportunity to gain invaluable experience of research and quality improvement projects.”

Neil Mortensen, Professor and President, Royal College of Surgeons of England

Professor David Cromwell, Professor of Health Services Research at LSHTM and Director of the CEU, said: “As well as improving diagnosis and treatment for patients, the center provides an environment for large-scale national projects and fellowships, which will expand the skills and talent pool of researchers involved in healthcare performance assessment, clinical epidemiology, medical statistics and data science. We are delighted to expand our collaboration with RCS England.”

NHS England’s national cancer director, Dame Cally Palmer said: “These new clinical audits will play an important role in widening our understanding of the treatment that cancer patients receive from the NHS and will allow us to achieve more consistent outcomes for people across the country.”

The National Cancer Audit Collaborating Centre will collaborate closely with professional groups and patient charities. Patient forums will be established to ensure that patients inform the quality improvement goals of each audit. The audits are committed to engaging widely with charities and experts involved in cancer care, delivering for patients and their families, as well as healthcare professionals and the health service.

Cancer treatment is complex – there are multiple treatment options for different types of cancer. A patient’s treatment plan needs to take into account the stage of their cancer and how they will respond to treatment.  A key aim for each audit will be to ensure the information produced for cancer services recognizes these differences and supports hospitals to focus on specific parts of the care pathway.  

Dr Julie Nossiter, Director of Operations, National Cancer Audit Collaborating Centre said: “Each audit will be led by a multidisciplinary team of clinical experts and senior academics. This will ensure the new audits are produced to the same high standard as those that the Clinical Effectiveness Unit (CEU) has run for years, maintaining the standards of excellence the CEU is renowned for. By having all the audits within one center, teams will learn from each other, benefit from efficiencies and share best practice.”

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